Thursday, July 24, 2014
The apple and the knob polishers do the hagiographic hard yards this day, and by golly is jolly Joe a pile of work ...
It's busy days for the hagiographers and knob polishers, and the bouffant one is back to berate jolly Joe Hockey for his shocking ways ...
You see, a terrible question arises. Which knob to polish, which hagiography to write? Should it be the wise, stern Treasurer, who just wants to deliver a tough budget, one suited for these troubled times, and worshipped as a grand job well delivered, right up to recent times.
A brave tough man, loved by the markets and by the hard heads, but sadly opposed at every turn bya soft touch PM, the goose with not an economic bone in his addled brain ...
Or should the commentariat turn on jolly Joe and tear him limb from limb, and demand his sacking, or at least leave him howling in the wind, tearing at his sackcloth and ashes.
Better to throw out a useless bit of furniture than the jewel in the crown, the soft touch PM with not an economic bone in his addled brain.
Is it time for a book burning?
Heck, why not? Come on down bouffant one, and sock it to us with Colleagues throw book at Hockey (behind the paywall, because book throwing, like book burning, doesn't come cheap).
The leitmotiv of Joe Hockey’s first months as Treasurer has become that of an aloof plutocrat puffing on a cigar, well-off, politically distant from everyday life, indulgent and indulged.
And that is just the view of some of his senior colleagues.
His launch this morning of the authorised biography — Hockey: Not Your Average Joe — only confirms colleagues’ concerns and prejudices, reinforces the impression he is not concentrating on selling his first budget and gifts Labor more material to beat an already beaten government.
That Hockey wanted an even tougher budget with even more pain not only hurts him and the “team” in the eyes of his cabinet colleagues, it is a clear inference that Tony Abbott was not up to the task.
That Hockey will never again trust Malcolm Turnbull, in the words of his wife, Melissa Babbage, feeds division and rancour.
And that Hockey has refused to resile or apologise for any of the revelations and ramifications so far damages Abbott’s authority and drags the PM’s targeted chief-of-staff, Peta Credlin, who says the Treasurer has his head above every other contender, further into a scarifying spotlight.
The revelations in the book, by journalist Madonna King, are not in themselves career-ending or of the same quantum of revelations about Peter Costello’s views about John Howard and the leadership that sapped the Howard-Costello government for years and ended in tears.
But, coming after a flawed political selling of a budget that had much to economically recommend it, some of Hockey’s cabinet colleagues see the Treasurer’s ratification of the book’s conclusions as a final act of self-indulgence and what must be the last act of indulgence from Abbott.
That the budget has soured the Coalition’s public standing is an understatement, and that Hockey’s lack of preparation for the “end of the age of entitlement’’ was part of that souring is self-evident. What’s worse, with the revelations in a biography he authorised and is endorsing, Hockey is damaging Abbott’s authority just as it is recovering and seems not to fear having his chain yanked.
In the smoking ruins of the budget sales job, not the budget itself, Hockey has made life more difficult for Abbott, drawn Credlin further into dangerous cabinet infighting and created sympathy for Turnbull, who is seen as being ostracised for lesser crimes.
Hockey can’t help being well off nor should he be punished for it — after all, Kevin Rudd and Turnbull faced each other as millionaires — but tempting fate by smoking a fat cigar while inflicting budget pain on unemployed youth or talking about his 200ha cattle property while discussing drought relief are not the acts of a wise and empathetic character.
Yesterday, despite the undercurrents among his colleagues and a growing scrutiny Hockey, in New Zealand and fresh back from a holiday in Fiji, did nothing to dampen the growing angst.
Labor’s Chris Bowen didn’t miss the chance.
Just as the government in general, and Abbott in particular, are preparing to take advantage of the passage of the carbon tax repeal bill and rest the budget debate, Hockey has opened unnecessary wounds and made much of the debate about him.
It has to be said that the pond just loves the smell of napalm and squabbling Tories in the morning.
Sadly, the pond has to agree with Dennis Shanahan - now there's a first - and Joe Hockey's book-throwing colleagues.
The time has come to sack Joe Hockey forthwith, and send him to the back bench at once. And since Hockey didn't act alone, but smoked his indulgent cigar with Mathias Cormann, the Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonator must also be immediately benched.
But let's not stop there. Someone appointed these clowns to the two most important economic positions in the federal political landscape, and whoever that was should also be immediately retired from active duty, and a cabinet reshuffle promptly organised.
The pond has many solutions to hand. Bronnie Bishop should be dragooned from her speaker's job - which she's handled with tremendous skill and astonishing impartiality - and forthwith made PM, just to prove the Liberals can empower women.
And who better than the poodle Pyne as Treasurer? After all, he appointed a strap and cane lover to enquire into education, and how better to bring the economy into good shape than six of the best on each hand, and the sweet smell of leather and fear as the cracking strap caresses the firm bottoms of young boys?
Oops, the pond got a little carried away there. Is there incipient Toryism in the pond?
But wait there's more treats. You see, if you happened to look up the bouffant one, here's what you got:
Strange, but thank you Google, for this splendid juxtaposition.
You see, if you clicked on the demonic, glowering shape of Rupert Murdoch - and who could resist? - you were immediately transported, courtesy the magic carpet of links, to Laura Tingle's piece for the AFR, Tony Abbott brief Rupert Murdoch on paid parental leave.
And suddenly it becomes painfully clear why the hagiographers and knob polishers were upset with jolly Joe Hockey:
Tony Abbott gave media proprietor Rupert Murdoch a detailed briefing on his controversial $5.5 billion paid parental leave scheme before he announced it without consulting his shadow cabinet or MPs.
The revelation about the scheme – which continues to be a contentious issue within the Coalition and between the government and the business community – is in a new biography of Treasurer Joe Hockey. In the book, Mr Hockey claims Mr Abbott only made a vague reference to the plan to him before it was announced in opposition.
Madonna King, the author of Hockey: Not Your Average Joe, writes neither the Coalition party room nor the businesses who would pay a levy to fund the expensive scheme were consulted before it was announced in 2010. But Mr Abbott “conferred with one leading business figure, the media proprietor Rupert Murdoch, who had been in Australia the month before”.
The book says Mr Abbott, a former Murdoch employee and then the new leader of the Liberal Party, “like many before him, had dinner with Murdoch, where he gave the media mogul a full rundown on the scheme – supplying enough detail for Murdoch to later have his Australian-based editors briefed on Abbott’s plan, which [Murdoch] considered a visionary approach to dealing with a real problem in his workforce”.
“They were encouraged to support it, notwithstanding that it represented a tax impost and was skewed to be of most benefit to parents outside their middle-Australian readership,” the book says.
“This fact was unknown to members in the party room, who condemned Abbott’s solo policymaking on such a fundamental issue.”
Throw the book at him! Burn the book! Form a circle and chant! Kill the best! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!
Oh dear too much time amongst the Tories or perhaps spent reading Golding's Lord of the Flies, a splendid guide to Tory politics.
Tingle has more, about the irked and offended Hockey, and the roughshod riding Abbott and agitated big business, and isolated Joe Hockey, and un-costed proposals and a government seething with tension and in total policy disarray, but you can read the rest at your leisure and your pleasure.
But it helps why the Abbott knob polishers are so agitated and will continue to be agitated.
The reptiles at the lizard Oz did the best they could, and set two of their best, most hagiographic knob polishers to work:
Oh sure, the image of Abbott as a kind of robot with a strategic map implanted in his head conjured up some wonderful images:
But it was all too little too late.
The pond still felt a curious tingle running up the leg ...
The book discusses two contentious policy issues – the Green Army and the paid parental leave scheme – which it asserts involved Mr Abbott making significant policy announcements without discussing them at all, or at least in any detail, with his shadow treasurer.
Sheesh, despite the very best endeavours of the knob polishers, it's all falling apart as the knobs send missives to each other, and books out into the world et cetera, et cetera...
(Below: as always, David Rowe has a brilliant abridgement of the book, which has saved the pond the trouble of reading it, and more brilliant Rowe here, the best reason for the AFR to continue to exist, even allowing for the tingle Laura Tingle can produce)
Posted by dorothy parker at 7/24/2014 08:22:00 AM